By Robin Gomes
The president-elect of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) has made an urgent appeal to the Church in Asia to reach out in solidarity and support to the survivors of the devastating tsunami that struck Indonesia nearly a week ago.
“On the eve of the new year, my thoughts go out to the populations of Indonesia, affected by recent violent natural disasters, which have caused serious losses in human lives, numerous people missing and homeless, and extensive material damage,” Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Myanmar wrote in a New Year message released on December 28.
A tsunami caused by the collapse of part of the volcanic Anak Krakatau island killed at least 430 people when waves of up to 5 metres smashed into the coastal areas of Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra on December 22. Some 1,500 have been injured and nearly 22,000 are displaced.
Myanmar’s first cardinal, who was elected the new president of the FABC on November 16 and assumes office on January 1, noted that Indonesia’s “huge tragedy” reminded him of the pain and suffering when Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar 10 years ago, in which some 140,000 lives were lost and 800,000 were displaced.
“We mourn the numerous deaths and untold suffering the tsunami has left behind at the dawn of the New Year 2019,” the FABC’s incoming president wrote.
“As a first step,” he said, “let me invite my brother bishops, pastors and catechists, as well as all religious and lay sisters and brothers to join in praying for the victims and for their loved ones and express our spiritual closeness to those who are affected by the tragedy by imploring God’s consolation in their suffering.”
Joining Pope Francis, Cardinal Bo made an urgent appeal that “these unfortunate brothers and sisters may not lack our solidarity and the support of the International Community.”
The 70-year-old cardinal also called on all to “collectively look for ways we could tangibly alleviate the sufferings of our Indonesian brothers and sisters.”
Even as Cardinal Bo issued his appeal on Friday, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rattled the eastern Indonesian province of West Papua, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Indonesian authorities who measured the quake at 6.1